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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hellboy 2

I don't know what it is about film director Guillermo del Toro, but he's yet to produce a film that I haven't enjoyed. Mimic, Blade 2, the amazing Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and now Hellboy 2.
Hellboy 2 takes the main characters from the original and moves the story along a good deal further, explaining a bit more of Hellboy's past and pointing in the direction of his future, but at it's heart it's just a love story. Sure, it's hidden in a spectacular fantasy action film, but it's just a simple 'boy meets girl, boy and girl get together, boy and girl figure out how to live with each other' tale.
Ron Perlman and Selma Blair are excellent actors who you don't see a great deal of. They have genuine chemistry on screen, and there's one scene in particular where Hellboy and Abe get drunk that had me laughing like mad.
Being a Del Toro movie, the special effects and CGI is spectacular, and the creatures featured in the movie are way better than anything normally seen these days from Hollywood. He even manages to squeeze in a token 'environmental monster' without it feeling too forced.
I think a third and final installment is most definitely in order and would round the series off nicely, preferably with the same cast and crew.

I look forward to seeing his version of The Hobbit.

8/10 - Even The Demon enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mid-Life Crisis: Part 1

Borag Thung, Earthlets!

I'll be 38 in October, so I think it's about time I had a mid-life crisis. As part of this, I've headed back to one of the fondest memories of my childhood and started reading the comic 2000AD again.
For those of you that have never heard of it, 2000AD is a sci-fi weekly comic that started life in early 1977 and that without doubt, from day one, shaped my literary and cinematic tastes for ever more.
I remember how excited I would be, rushing home from school, to see the latest issue and find out what Judge Dredd (don't you dare mention Sylvester Stallone!), Rogue Trooper, and my own favourite, the A.B.C. Warriors were getting up to. I still have all my old copies of it from issue 1 to issue 380-something, and in those rare occasions that I find myself in my parent's loft, I can guarantee that I'll end up spending an hour or so reading over them again. To this day I still consider them to be absolutely fantastic and I always feel great when I pour through them again.

When I reached my mid teens I stopped reading 2000AD. I'm not entirely sure why, but I seem to recall a slight change in the direction that the comic was taking, coupled with a burgeoning interest in written novels, ended my 7-odd year love affair with one of Britain's longest running and most successful weekly comics, but after a gap of some 24 years, I'm back.
I've been buying 2000AD in its current format for some weeks now and one of the best things about it is that, in part, it feels like I was never away. Judge Dredd is still there, the A.B.C. Warriors are still there, but the characters that are all new to me are also interesting and original. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that comic books and video games are the ONLY forms of entertainment media where anything original is happening. Hollywood has stalled and can only see as far as the next re-make, tv is only interested in reality or talent shows, but video games and comics continue to push on with new and inventful storylines. Judge Dredd alone has been in print every single week for over 30 years and is still the most popular character in the comic. If ever the executives in the Hollywood studios need inspiration, look no further.

It's good to come home.

Splundig Vur Thrigg!

Friday, August 29, 2008

All aboard the bandwagon!

Never one to miss out on a good bandwagon, I'll shamelessly jump on the Jagmeister's 'Over-Rated' post and list a few of my own. Here's my list of things I consider to be overrated or just plain shite:

1. Social Networking. Great, you've made contact with people you haven't seen in years but didn't really miss in the first place.

2. Cats. Why have a pet that doesn't like you and will maim you as soon as look at you?

3. Reality TV. "Day 472. Shabazz blows his head off with a sawn-off shotgun. No one notices."

4. 4x4's. Great, you have a low ratio gearbox and big tyres. When was the last time you went off road with it?

5. Sushi. It's raw fucking fish! You'd be just as well eating uncooked fish fingers.

6. Detoxing. You're fooling no one.

7. Bluetooth Headsets. Looking like a dick is the price you pay for daring to believe that you are popular/important enough that people will need to talk to you ALL THE TIME.

8. Hair. I got rid of mine ages ago and life is so much better for it.

9. Designer Clothing Shops. Pay £50 for a t-shirt? Not any more, TK Max is my church.

10. Camping. Fuck that. No way, never, not unless hurricane Sanjay blows my house down.

11. Religion. It's for the hard of thinking.

12. War. There have only ever been two worthwhile wars. One is by U2 and the other is by Edwin Starr.

13. Yoga. You're not doing anything, you're just sitting quietly!

14. Blogs. Come on people, you don't really care what I think, be honest.

15. Tabloids. Every single thing they print is twisted around someone's agenda.

16. Politicians. They all lie for a living, each and every one of the bastards.

17. Foreign Holidays. Explore some of your own country and history. Surprise yourself.

18. Microwave Ovens. Don't own one, never needed one.

19. Modern Art. Dear oh fucking dear, do not get me started.

20. Facial Hair. I hate shaving and if someone offered me a pill tomorrow that would guarantee that I'd never have to shave again, I'd take it.

21. Smoking. Why would you want to look/smell/taste like a fucking ashtray? Vomit inducing.

22. The Rolling Stones. Please, for the love of God, just stop!

23. Paris Hilton.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scotland, Big Up Yaself!

It's not every day that my wee nation has cause to shout about itself, so I decided to take a half-day from work (using the old my-car-needs-a-new-windscreen trick, which it does, but that only took 20 minutes to sort out) and head through to Edinburgh, fair capital city of Scotland, to join in the celebrations for some of our returning Olympic athletes.

These celebrations would be in the form of an open topped bus parade down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament building in Hollyrood, and to say I was surprised at the amount of well-wishers and bemused tourists who turned out is an understatement. It was choc-a-bloc with people of all ages, and indeed nationalities, waving saltires and taking photos, myself included. I'd read that the authorities were expecting around 7000 people, but it certainly felt like a much bigger crowd than that.
When the bus carrying canoeist David Florence, rowing captain Katherine Grainger and cyclists Ross Edgar and Chris Hoy reached me, the cheer that went up was spectacular and genuinely emotional, helped in no small part by the screams from a class of primary school kids who all went absolutely bugfuck when Chris Hoy shouted down to them.

I think that the term 'legend' is now wholly applicable to Chris Hoy. He, for me, IS the 2008 Olympics, without taking anything away from the other athletes who hit personal bests, broke British records, and won medals. I enjoyed watching his performances more than any other, and I think that he'll be a huge inspiration to kids all over the world, let alone here in the UK, and a great ambassador for the world of cycling.

Talking of personal bests, I've just managed to get 629.8 miles out of a full tank of diesel (that's 59+mpg, baby!) in the ebay car. This is what my life has come to as I approach my 40th birthday, kicking and screaming all the way. Time for a mid-life crisis I think!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Top Tottie Tuesday: August '08

I think if I was American I'd vote for Senator John McCain. I don't agree with any of his policies, but his wife is a fox! Cindy McCain, 54, was just 25 when she met war hero John in 1979. He was married but that didn't stop him rapidly deploying into her demilitarised zone and staging a little coup d’état. He divorced his then wife Carol pretty damn quickly, and who can blame the man! I'm sure we've all wanted to trade the family people carrier in for a nippy two-seater sports car at some point in our lives!

Just look at that photo. Even with a bloody great stookie on her arm, she's hot! John knows it, just look how happy he is.

P.S. - Due to a war injury, poor John has to walk around like that all the time. Those North Vietnamese can be so cruel.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


With the flash and the bang of a few hundred thousand fireworks, the games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing draw to a close, and I have to say that they've been excellent.
43 world records broken, 132 Olympic records broken, and the first ever medals for Afghanistan, Mauritius, Tajikistan and Togo.
The Brits of Team GB finally ended up in 4th place overall in the medal table behind the superpowers that are Russia, USA and China.
The UK's performance has been spectacular, and it's great to see that it was some of the lesser known athletes who really upped their game and brought home a medal as a reward.
I still don't think we should be hosting the games in 2012, but I'll definitely be hoping to get along to some of the events in Olde London Towne in a few years time.

Part of the credit for the Beijing games being so enjoyable has to go to the BBC. Their coverage has been spot on, with, for the most part, informative and intelligent presenters, and extremely professional pundits like Michael Johnson, who's made more sense in two weeks than Gordon Brown has in his career.
The interactive 'red button' has finally found a place in my life, and High Definition video came into it's own during Chris Hoy's performance in the velodrome.

I just wish our national anthem was a bit more inspiring.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Man On A Mission

Adrian Sudbury.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Radio England

I'm a big fan of BBC Radio 5 Live

"The UK's home of live news and live sport"

...but I'm feeling a bit disgruntled with them at the moment.
I've just listened to the 5Live Sport show that runs nightly from 7-8pm. It went a little something like this:
7:00-7:30pm - Commentary on the England football match from last night.
7:30-7:31pm - News (including the England football match from last night)
7:31-7:43pm - Commentary on the England cricket team.
7:43-7:47pm - Round up of Team GB's day in Beijing, including an interview with their psychologist and how could he help the England football team.
7:47-7:54pm - Lewis Hamilton on this weekend's Valencia Grand Prix.
7:54-8:00pm - Commentary on Arsenal's involvement with a cancer charity.

I can't help but notice that there was no mention of the other home nations.

Where did I put my bloody kilt?!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finally . . .

. . . I've got the Olympic Spirit.
As a cyclist, I'd enjoyed Nicole Cooke's win in the women's cycling road race, but I'd happily avoided pretty much everything else . . . right up until Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Jamie Staff won the team sprint gold medal on Friday. From then on I've been shouting at the tv all weekend. The men's coxless four in the rowing, Rebecca Adlington in the swimming pool, Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenaghel in the velodrome, and Ben Ainslie in the sailing. They've all experienced my vociferous armchair patriotism.


I have to say, again as a cyclist, Britain absolutely kicks ass in the world of the bicycle. We're absolutely dominating the Olympic track cycling events, with potentially more gold medals to come, but even outside the games themselves, we rule. The men's, women's and men's junior downhill mountain bike World Champions are all Brits, and I still cannot believe that, what I consider to be, one of the most exciting and impressive world sports ISN'T included in the Olympics. Downhill mountain bike racing is, quite frankly, fucking incredible to watch, just cast your eyes over this clip of Britain's Gee Atherton becoming a God if you don't believe me.

Also, what can you say about Usain Bolt?
With a healthy porn addiction, it's not the first time I've been impressed by a big black man, but his 100 metres final was one of the most jaw-dropping spectacles of the games so far. He backed off with 10 metres to go and still annihilated the world record. When the day comes when he really goes for a world record time, I think it'll be a time that will stand for decades.

Vive le Sport!

P.S. - I've recently received a new Nokia N95 mobile phone, and while it's an incredible little bit of kit, it's quite clearly a bad thing to have when you're in the pub. I give you exhibit A and exhibit B.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who Da Man?

Chris Hoy.

He da man.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Renewed your UK Passport lately?



No, just me then?

Ok, just so you know, it now costs £72 pounds to renew your passport.
Yes, I did say seventy two fucking pounds sterling. That's for the privilege of having a new photo and a new 42 page book that hardly ever gets stamped any more, for doing all the administrative legwork myself via the online form that I fill in and then bizarrely have posted back out to me to sign then post back again, and for supplying my details once more that'll probably just end up in a laptop that gets left on a fucking train!

£72 pounds!

What exactly do they do for all that folding?
Does someone extensively research my background to ascertain whether I am who I claim to be? Does a man in a van with blacked-out windows snap my visage through a massive telephoto lens to compare to the £3.99 photos from Boots that I submit with my form? Or does a school leaver simply type in my details, make sure they match what they already have, and click on the button marked 'issue'.
Am I really such a cynic?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Good Stuff

Last night saw me relinquishing yet another pint of my finest B- (see above) to the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service. I've been a blood donor since I was old enough to donate, mostly due to my father. He's blood group O-, the rare one, and would get a phone call every 12 weeks to let him know that it was time to go along and donate again. I'd go with him and sit on the end of the bed, so when I became old enough to donate myself there were no terrors or unknowns for me.

This leads me on to the whole blood/organ/bone marrow donor debate.
I definitely think that the system of organ donation in this country should switch from being an 'opt in' to an 'opt out' system. To my knowledge, in a department of 11 people, I'm the only registered organ donor, I think I'm the only regular blood donor, and I'm sure I'm the only registered bone marrow donor, yet any time I've spoken to the guys at work they all agree that:

"Once I'm dead they can have what they like"

That's all well and good, but unless you've had that discussion with your family and next of kin, or you register and carry a card, then that's just a lot of hot air.
Almost everyone in the UK applies for a passport or driving license at some point early in their lives, and all it would take is adding 1 little tick box to the form that says 'I do NOT wish my organs to be harvested in the event of my death', and overnight life for the people in this country awaiting organ transplants would change for the better.

As for the blood and bone marrow donation, well you can't force people to donate, and I wouldn't want to, but I'm pretty sure each and every one of us knows someone who has needed a blood transfusion at some point in the past, a transfusion that most probably saved their lives.
Enough said.

Oh yeah, as for all you Jehovah's Witnesses, would you please get out of the gene pool, you're just spoiling the fun for all the rest of us.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

When Mountain Bikes Attack!

As most of you regular readers will know, myself and my friends are keen mountain bikers, but today our luck caught up with us. Now I'm not saying that we're the best in the world, but we're not slow and we're not afraid of big air, but when things go wrong at these velocities they tend to go VERY wrong.

Picture the scene.
Myself and the rest of The Restless Natives are waiting on the last member of our merry troupe to finish his run. Suddenly, Cletus the slack-jawed yokel and International Man Of Mystery bursts into view, travelling pretty fast.
Cue much shouting of encouragement and general peer pressure from friends.
Cletus hits the last, and very large, jump with total commitment. Cletus then finds himself with plenty of hangtime as he's approximately 8 feet in the air. Gravity finally asserts it's authority and pulls. The bike touches down, it goes one way, Cletus goes the other way.



When we got to him, Cletus was winded and lying in a pretzel like configuration. After some anxious moments, Cletus raises himself to a seating position, whereupon it's clear to all concerned that the Clavicle, or collar bone, has quite clearly broken.


I suppose all sport has it's risks, but had Cletus not had on a full-face helmet, he would surely be looking at adding a concussion, or possibly even a fractured skull to his list of injuries.
Suffice to say I paid attention and I'll be ordering one myself as soon as I'm paid.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Going The Extra Mile

Sometimes, just sometimes, I'm reassured that all humans aren't thick as the proverbial plank, by being on the receiving end of high levels of service from staff in shops and the suchlike.

One such staff member is Andrew, owner of Run Ecosse, a fittness and running shop 2 minutes up the road from me here in Olde Falkirk Towne. In the past he's actually recommended to me to purchase a particular product at another shop because it's cheaper there. Now that's treating the customer like an equal, and it's also the reason that I'll always go back to his shop whenever I need something he can supply.
Unfortunately, due to something called 'karma', for every Andrew, there must also be a Stacy.

Please note the Phillips CR2032 Lithium battery in the picture above, convieniently placed near a UK pound coin for an easy size comparison.
I'll just run you through the purchase shenanigans:

Stacey stands at the cash register with a blank expression that hints at either complete apathy or complete incompetence, either or both, who knows.

Stacey - "Just the battery?"
Han Solo - "Yes thanks"
Stacey - "Would you like to take out a Homebase credit card for this purchase?"
Han - "Whit?"
Stacey - "Would you like . . . etc"
Han - "No, it's only £1.99!"
Stacey - "Ok, that'll be £1.99 please"
Money changes hands.
Stacey - "Would you like a bag for that?"
Han - Without looking up "Ha Ha!"
Looks up.
Stacey - "Would you like a bag for that?"
Han - Tries to raise a smile "No, I think I'll be able to manage it just as it is, ha ha!"
Stacey - ".........."

Clearly Stacey has a bright future in a call centre somewhere, and if Andrew carries on like that he'll go out of business!